Are you completely and totally over your job? Are you sticking with it anyway because you feel like it’s your only choice? All too often we buy into the sunk cost fallacy, thinking that with all the time, energy, and effort we’ve put into our career, it would be impractical to give up on it now.
The decision to leave a job you loathe is even harder when you have a family depending on you. Between insurance benefits, your kids’ school, and the bills rolling in every month, there’s simply too much to lose by shaking things up now.
But the truth is, you have much more to lose by staying in a situation that makes you unhappy. Your kids don’t benefit from an unhappy mother, your spouse doesn’t benefit from a miserable partner, and YOU don’t benefit from spending your one and only life counting down to the end of each day.
There’s no denying that making a career change comes with risk, but the rewards can be tremendous. You could find better pay, more vacation time, improved benefits, or the opportunity to be your own boss, but none of those are the greatest benefit of leaving a job you hate. So what is? Better mental health.
Nothing takes a toll on your mental wellness quite like the chronic stress of spending 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year overworked and unfulfilled. According to the University of California, Berkeley, chronic stress can lead to mental illnessesthat affect you throughout your life. And the effects of stress don’t stop with your mind. Don’t believe me? Just read this rundown from the American Psychological Association, which explains how stress affects everything from pain, to heart health, to digestion, to reproductive health — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But even if you appreciate the importance, figuring out how to go about a career change isn’t easy. If you’re crying in your car on the way to the office, it’s time to get serious about taking steps to get out. Here’s how:
1. Consider if you’d be happier at a different position in the same field. If an overly-demanding boss or toxic company culture is behind your dissatisfaction, you may be able to find a similar position with a company that treats you better. Or if your current position isn’t particularly stimulating, spending time on professional development could help you move to a more fulfilling role. If not ...
2. Weigh your passions. If you didn’t have to work, what would you spend your days doing? Is there any way to take that passion and turn it into a profitable career?
3. Assess your values. What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead? Do you want flexible working hours and ample vacation time, or is job security more important to you? Do you want a job that makes a difference, or just one that makes ends meet while letting you pursue passions in your downtime?
4. Consider your skills. You’ve cultivated a set of skills in your current career, and there’s a good chance many of those same talents could be valuable in a different field.
5. Try it on. Once you’ve narrowed in on a few options, try them on for size. Spend time volunteering, freelancing, or taking classes to see what sticks. Doing this on top of your full time job will be a sacrifice, but it’s best to keep the financial security until you have a plan in place.
6. Make the switch. With a little experience under your belt and a clear vision of what you want, it’s time to get serious about your career change. Start sending out resumes, attending networking events, and enlist help from your contacts.
Taking risks is scary, but spending the rest of your working years dissatisfied and stressed to your limits is even scarier. No matter how old you are or how many years you’ve spent doing the same thing, it’s never too late to try something new. Plus, it’ll be so much easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Article written by Julie Morris
Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. Ms. Morris spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.